Being a successful athlete, no matter what sport or level you play at, brings about pressure. The pressure to perform and to produce results. Pressure in moderation can be helpful as it creates discipline and the desire to practice to get better at your sport. Too much pressure on the other hand is a hindrance and unhealthy.
As a grade 11 student approaching the home stretch of his high school journey, it was time to focus on academics – good grades and post-secondary school applications. For any high school student, this can be a very intimidating and stressful period as you try to plan the next phase of your life. There is almost no time for anything else as your day is consumed with studying and classes as you try to position yourself for the future.
Since my performances in athletics in the early years of high school, I had been encouraged by my peers and teachers to push on with the sport to see what the opportunities were. I joined my first track club in the summer of grade 9. By grade 11, I was introduced to Pete Grinbergs. A local track and field coaching guru in the Kitchener-Waterloo area, Peter was renowned for his coaching success with local distance running athletes. Under Peter, and through the help of my high school coaches my athletic success, I had continued to improve. After bringing in four OFSAA medals, a provincial junior championship, and as a Canadian National Junior medalist at the end of my grade 12 year, Peter had introduced the idea to me that there might be a possibility of earning an athletic scholarship to the United States to compete in the NCAA Division 1.
I was now in a very interesting situation. The pressures were starting to mount. Not only did I have all the academic pressures to deal with, but also the pressures brought on by sport performance. Training time would interfere with study time. I was often tired from training, making it hard to focus on school work; with the possibility of impacting my grades and overall health. There was no free time; all the while having to take phone calls and making constant contact with coaches and schools in the NCAA. Oh, and don’t forget about maintaining your athletic results. There was a lot of pressure, causing extra stress. Athletes have a juggling act to perform, and it is not an easy task.
Looking back on this period of my life, now many years later, I cannot stress how important focus and time management are for student-athletes. Even if it takes 5-10 minutes, managing your day in a schedule or calendar can help to ease confusion and stress within your day. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is also important to maintaining athletic and academic performance. You need to make sure you are eating and sleeping enough to have the energy to perform in and outside of the classroom. This is a lifestyle change on a large scale, but the benefits are immense. Any way you can find to reduce pressure and negate stress will yield better results on the playing field, and in the classroom.
Stay tuned as I continue my series – An Athletically Inspired Educational Journey – with my next blog post on my experience with the college recruitment process for top NCAA schools around the country.